The Kentucky River District Health Department (KRDHD), which covers the counties of Knott, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Owsley, Perry and Wolfe, continues to see new cases of COVID 19 throughout the district. After several months of having relatively few cases we have seen a surge in the number of new positive cases. We have also had an increase in the number of deaths. As people continue to get back together as restrictions are lifted we will continue to see the virus spread. The use of non-pharmaceutical interventions such as social distancing, wearing facial coverings, hand washing or using hand sanitizer, staying home when sick, and avoiding travel to areas where the virus is spread are the main tools we have to slow the spread of this disease. There is promising information about vaccine development, but a vaccine is still months away.
The COVID 19 pandemic has unfortunately been heavily politicized. Conspiracy theories abound and there are many sources sharing misinformation. This is the case about one of our most useful tools in slowing the spread of this disease which is Contact Tracing. Contact Tracing is a process by which staff at the local health department contact individuals who have tested positive for the virus and interview them about who they could have potentially spread the virus to. We will not ask questions about finances or other personal information. We will ask about where you have been the 48 hours prior to when you tested positive or symptoms began, where you work or go to school, and who lives in your household. We will direct the positive case to self-isolate for a period and ask if they need any support with groceries or other basic needs to be successful in this quarantine. We will never ask about personal financial information such as bank account or credit card numbers. If someone contacts you claiming to be from the health department seeking financial information, it is a scam. Hang up and notify us please.
Close contacts of a positive case who are at risk of contracting coronavirus will be called by our team and instructed to quarantine for up to 14 days and seek treatment if symptoms develop. If there is a risk of individuals being exposed whom we may not be able to identify, then a public announcement is made. We have made these announcements for businesses such as grocery stores, cell phone stores, post offices, and auto dealerships. We have also made these announcements for different churches in our area. Some have alleged that we are “church shaming” but that is not the case. Members of our faith-based community are very important partners in our public health efforts and their leadership can play a key role in keeping our communities health. We also do not announce the names of businesses who have employees test positive but there is a low risk of public exposure. There is no shame in contracting COVID 19. Contact tracing is an important tool in our public health toolbox so please answer the call if you get it.